Junior Ross Massey walked the first batter he faced after entering to start the eighth inning Saturday.
Then he and the Tulane baseball team continued to put a nightmarish 2017 in the rear-view mirror.
Massey pitched three scoreless innings to earn his first win since 2016, and newcomer Acy Owen ripped a game-winning double down the right-field line in the 10th as the Green Wave rallied to beat Wright State 6-5 on Saturday at Turchin Stadium.
Tulane, which did not get its second win last season until March 3, improved to 2-0 with its second straight one-run victory. And no one was more important than Massey, a Catholic High graduate who symbolized the Wave's free fall from a stellar 2016 more than any player on the roster.
Massey plummeted to 0-8 with a 9.68 ERA last season after going 10-3 with a 2.29 ERA as a freshman in 2016, when the Wave won the American Athletic Conference title.
Saturday, he retired nine straight batters comfortably after his initial free pass, keeping the score tied at 3.
"That's just what we wanted to see out of him," coach Travis Jewett said. "That's what he had been working so hard to get to. He just looked good out there. He had a confidence and aura. I think he was back to his old self."
Jewett admitted the performance from one of the most popular players on the team made him tear up. Massey's complete loss of control in 2017 (38 walks in 43 innings) in Jewett's first year was a mystery, but he looked very sharp against Wright State.
"I was just trying to throw strikes, establish the zone and get us in quick," Massey said. "It started with trusting the fastball, and then I went to the changeup and slider a few times. Once I felt my pitches were established, I just tried to attack them and see how far they could hit it."
Only one ball left the infield, and that was a lazy fly to center.
Owen's line-shot game-ender off Wright State closer Derek Hendrixson went much farther, rolling into the Acadian Ambulance sign near the foul pole. Kobi Owen, who had gotten Tulane's first hit in three innings off reliever Mitch Gremling, raced around from first base and beat the throw to the plate easily. The entire dugout emptied as everyone chased down Acy Owen behind second base in a massive celebration.
"It was a slider low and in," said Acy Owen, who hit a home run on Friday. "They had gotten me out with it a couple of times. Luckily I sat on it that time and was able to get under it a little bit and get it over the first baseman's head."
It was another gutty win for Tulane, which failed to score with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning of a 1-1 game before falling behind 5-2.
First baseman Trevor Jensen started the comeback with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the seventh and tied it when he scored on a wild pitch.
Massey took over from there until Acy Owen finished it off.
"You get down 5-2 in the seventh, a lot of people might think maybe it's not our night," Jewett said. "Teams that don't believe, that might have popped their bubble. This team wasn't going to let that happen. There was too much baseball left."
The Wave will go for its first opening-weekend sweep in four years in Sunday's finale, which has been moved up 30 minutes to 12:30 p.m. to accommodate Wright State's travel plans.